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Archive for April, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Hired someone recently?

If you have hired someone recently, you could be eligible for a tax credit as well as not having to pay the employer’s portion of the social security tax… first, this is just my own understanding, you should check with your tax adviser of course.

If you hired them after Feb 3, 2010 and before January 1, 2011 and they had not worked for more than 40 hours the previous 60 days, you may qualify for a tax break (this includes laid off employees) through the newly passed HIRE Act. Basically, you do not have to pay the 6.2% social security tax for the first 52 weeks they are employed by you and you could be eligible for a $1000 tax break on your federal tax return.

For more information about the HIRE Act, please follow the links below:
IRS Site – http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=220326,00.html
Intuit Site – http://payroll.intuit.com/federal_hire_act/index.jsp?cid=social_payroll_prpay_landing_hire

If you have an employee that qualifies for this, they will need to complete a W11. A copy of the W-11 form can be obtained at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw11.pdf

It’s important to note that you cannot hire a relative and take the credit. I found a great write up from Taxgirl’s blog (always full of good info if you’re a business/accounting geek).

PostHeaderIcon Conference Musings for IVAA Summit #ivaa10 – changes, twitter and winning

As many of you know, I attended the IVAA Live Summit in Phoenix last week. This was my 5th conference that I’ve attended for the virtual assistant industry and I must admit that my reasons for attending have changed. I still go to learn and attend the sessions, but I no longer feel compelled to stay in one that I feel is irrelevant to my business. However, this was the first year I actually left a session just because I wasn’t enjoying it. Hey, you win some and you lose some. I’m sure others were getting a lot of it.

I now go more for meeting other people. I work virtually and have a monthly peer meeting here in Austin, but it’s kind of awesome to meet with everyone like that. I’d much rather hang out at the bar after dinner and see who turns up and talk – yes, about business, but also taking time to get to know other people.

ANYWAY… one big difference for me was Twitter. The organizers set up a hashtag ahead of time. The interesting part of it, for me, is that because the conference is so small (about 106 people attended), most of us on there knew each other. It kind of allowed us to talk a little behind the scenes and discuss not only what was being said, but also helped us find stuff… let me explain.

Have you ever been sitting somewhere and get a huge headache? Usually you’d ask those around you and then head to the concierge desk and buy some overpriced Advil from the hotel. Aha! No longer. I saw at least twice someone asking for Tylenol or Advil and another person passing it to them. My own roommate needed cortisone cream (yes, long shot right?), and what do you know… someone came up and said “I have some in my room”. Amazing, really. I think, more than anything, I was amazed at that. People were talking about places they had visited for dinner the previous night, I used it to set up a meeting in the lobby with someone I wanted to work with. I mean, really – it was a convenience factor. And yes, I warned my followers several times to pause my tweets (Muuter has a service that is supposed to be great).

It’s interesting to watch social media shape how we interact in settings such as that. Most people had their laptops open and were tweeting, emailing, etc. BUT you could always tell how interesting the speaker was by looking to see how many people were looking down constantly compared to how many were not looking down at all – others were truly taking notes and looking up and down too. Some may say it could be construed as rude to the speaker, but I don’t think so. Some of what was going on was us talking about what they were saying, providing links, etc.

In other news… I won a gift certificate for Amazon. I heard them announce they were going to give away the prizes for the badge contest. Since I had nothing to do with the thing around my neck, I tuned it out through 4th, 3rd, 2nd… and then I heard my name. I looked at Andrea Kalli, who was seated beside me, and asked her what I won. She said the badge contest. Um… I didn’t have anything to do with them! No no no, she says, the graphic. No! I didn’t design that – I can’t even color inside the lines! No no, the thing you click on… OH!!! THAT! I’m sure Andrea though I was completely crazy.

After I finished panicking, I remembered that early on, they had sent out a graphic and specialized link and if you got the most clicks, you’d win something. I forwarded to my web guy and said “put it here, here and here” and didn’t think anything about it. I guess it worked cuz I got a gift card. Go me!

Overall, this was good Summit. I am hoping they change it up a bit, but ultimately I’m there to support the industry and have a little fun while making some meaningful connections. I just may learn a thing or two too 🙂

PostHeaderIcon The keys to the kingdom…

I was talking to a long-time client on the phone earlier today who is shifting things and wants me to start printing checks for him. It’s a fairly easy thing to do. About half my clients still use checks on a regular basis. For them, it’s fairly easy, we just set up their check for use on our check stock and MiCR printer, get a scan of their signature to use (unless they want us to mail to them to sign and mail – most just give us their signature though), and off-we-go. Other clients use online banking (well, we do it for them most of the time), but most do a mixture of both.

Anyway, it was interesting because this is a big step for him. Giving access to his checking account like that. For me, I know there’s nothing I’m going to do with it, would do with it – or, really, could do with it. Writing myself a big check would be, well… stupid.

It also kind of made me laugh because I have such a wide variety of clients and how they look at their banking information. We are, of course, fully insured, but some hand me the keys to the kingdom with a big sigh of relief while others protect it with their lives. I do have some in-between, others that are handling like this particular client – doling it out slowly, but it’s true that they run the gamut.

It’s just interesting because there are things in my personal and business life myself that I an open with (Google me and you’ll find my personal family page and we’re pretty open on there) and other things that I keep very private. I think because we work virtually, it makes everything a little different. I know that when I tell people that I’ve never met over half of my clients they are shocked, but it’s true. I have clients from all over the United States.

I’ll be honest and say that those who hand me the keys to their kingdom make my life easier. We’re able to keep their books up-to-date in a more timely fashion, we don’t have to wait for a statement to get emailed to us, etc. We can log into their account, update their file, pay their bills and send them an update every 7-14 days or so.

But… I also recognize that not all clients are comfortable with that. Some would prefer to work off of statements only and want to review it themselves. I have some that send me every scrap of paper they get. I have some that make notes. I think the most important part is flexibility. Clients are flexible with us. Almost all of our team will be spending next week out of touch and they are all cool with it, it is our annual conference and we’re going to have fun (and learn, of course). We are also flexible with them. If they want to hand us the keys and run away screaming, we take the keys and redecorate. If they don’t, we just suggest moving a knick-knack now and then.